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2003 – Unbuilt Dublin – U2 Landmark Tower

Architect: Burdon Dunne Architects / Craig Henry Architects

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Our proposal for this site presents a dynamic twisted tower block, fully glazed with a double skinned surface and sheathed with anti-glare louvres to the south and part of the east and west elevations, rising from a planar structure scaled subtly to the adjacent buildings and providing continuity to the platform office level, which is then turned down to enclose a semi open-air public auditorium before arriving at public service spaces in the form of a bar, café or restaurant at campshire level. This landmark, a symbolic beacon at the end of Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, creates a new interface between the regenerated docklands of the static city and the ever-moving landscape of the river and tidal basins at the confluence of the River Liffey, the Grand Canal Basin and the Dodder.

From the outset we concluded that an appropriate use dynamic for our proposal must be a residential tower, a hive of activity both day and night, with complementary shops, offices and restaurants in a clean modern podium base. Factors such as site orientation, maximum flexibility, and Masterplan aspirations regarding mixed usage and density levels determined a model akin to a ‘Rubik’s cube’ or “tetris” block rotated around a pinwheel-like core, at once highly animated but with an underlying subtle order. The tower terminates with a new recording studio for U2, enclosed by panoramic views across Dublin and the surrounding region. Roof gardens sit on floating stepped platforms above, enclosed by the louvre screen from below.

In section the tower is manipulated to provide variable sized apartments including one, two and three bedroom versions. The two and three bedroom apartments interlock over two floors to provide a double height space reminiscent of the ‘Unite d’ habitation’ section. These spaces are at each corner, thus allowing every apartment direct sunshine and maximum views. Entrances to apartments are at either the lower or upper level. The double skin glazing forms an outer winter garden on all sides, which can be opened up into apartments as desired. The inner layer of glass or timber sliding screens and opaque walls provide views or internal privacy as required. A transition (services) floor separates the residential tower from the recording studio above. The central core serving the residential tower terminates at this level while the main staircase and eccentrically located designated lift continue to the studio above. The transition level provides total acoustic separation and also houses M&E plant for the residential accommodation below. The recording studio is located on two levels, the lower accommodating the reception areas with office and ancillary studio spaces, and the upper a double-height glass box recording studio and control room.

Our scheme proposes two levels of underground car parking at one end of the site, with one level of services, stores and nightclub at the other. This would also accommodate dedicated car parking for the recording studio with controlled access to the dedicated lift.

At campshire level the building opens out to Britain Quay and the waterside. The fully glazed frontage is protected by anti-glare louvres cantilevered from the planar surface. Access to the residential tower and the office suites is from Britain Quay, the former through a grand hallway separated from the public spaces by a broad external stairway leading up to a landscaped viewing platform. At the southern end of the podium, a generous covered open-air public auditorium provides for cinema screening or performances. Above the level of the viewing platform there is a dedicated office suite with a landscaped roof garden over the auditorium below.

The tower has a clear shoulder parapet visible at 60 metres above ground level with no habitable floors above that point, as the floor level of the double height recording studio is 2.4 metres below. To comply with the slenderness ratio requirements of 4:1, the louvred screen and the outer glass skin rise to a height varying from 68.6 metres above ground level to 78.4 metres surrounding a stepped landscaped roof garden, the trees within are visible rising up to the clouds.